October issue available now online and in store
2020-21 Season Guide
Premier League, EFL & Scottish Premiership: How your team will do; best and worst moments of last season; what it was like during lockdown; players who deserve a part of the ground named after them
WSL & National League: Big names jet in to the Women’s Super League; National League’s financial meltdown
A new era for Leeds? | Barcelona: why it went wrong | How TV football almost flopped | The night Phil King was Villa Park's hero | Harry Pearson returns to north-east football | Non-League fans campaign | No takeover at Newcastle | China's lockdown league | Raising a glass to Lokomotive Leipzig | Mental health language lessons | FSA seek to Sustain The Game | Time to cast aside the closing ceremony | Tunnel vision | Focus on John McGovern | A title tussle in Division Three (South)
Winning hearts and minds Harry Pearson book extract
Durham bus station is one of Britain’s architectural wonders, as changeless as Roy Keane’s stare. If you really want to know what life was like in the north of England in the 1970s please go and visit. It’s like standing inside a chain smoker’s lung. It is, however, also a gateway to football wonders – to Crook, Bishop Auckland, Spennymoor, West Auckland, Willington and our destination for the day: Esh Winning.
Crowning the King Villa Park's unlikely penalty hero
In 2017 I wrote something online, half-jokingly, about getting a tattoo of Phil King on my backside. I never thought he would find it and get in touch. “I don’t do much on Facebook, but I said we’ve got to track this fella down and see if he got it. It was curiosity at first, but then I thought it’d just be nice to say hello,” he told me in a phone call. There are some moments in football that are unforgettable and filled with joy, whether it leads to greater success or not. For me, one was when King, a full-back bought cheaply from Sheffield Wednesday, rifled a penalty past one of the best keepers in the world to defeat Internazionale in the UEFA Cup in September 1994.
Screen grab The League's early resistance to TV
Until the amounts offered by Sky bulldozed all concerns, the Football League’s attitude to television tended towards keeping it at arm’s length. While the FA Cup final had been broadcast live since 1938, League secretary Fred Howarth was a television sceptic who went as far as trying to get live broadcasts of matches in competitions not under his authority’s rule cancelled. After a number of enquiries an official edict of 1947 established that televising League matches was ultimately up to the clubs, but when Charlton and Chelsea agreed to have part of their fixture shown live that October every club was sent a letter from the League Management Committee declaring a veto of all such broadcasts.
Messi business Chaos at Camp Nou
“The colours are within” was the marketing slogan when Barcelona unveiled their new black away kit in late July. Apparently, went the spiel, “this absence of colour” serves to show that “fans’ hearts are Blaugrana no matter what is on the outside”. There was certainly no colour from the lifeless team crushed 8-2 by Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon two weeks later – just a raised white flag – but plenty has come out in the wash since, with coach Quique Setién sacked, Ronald Koeman hired, and the club’s greatest-ever player, Lionel Messi, declaring his desire to leave.
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